What is it?
This is our first chance to drive one of the latest rivals for the Ford Mondeo – as it happens, an “in-house rival”, from Ford subsidiary Mazda, in the 6 hatchback – on UK roads. Our man Steve Cropley returned broadly impressed with the 2.5-litre Mazda 6 after his outing on a Hungarian test track. Now we look at a more affordable model, the entry 1.8-litre petrol in TS trim, on our home turf.
Sat in the car park – next to a conveniently parked new Mondeo – the more demure 6 with smaller 16in alloys looks sleek and attractive. Mazda says this version is meant to look more ‘Japancentric’, and whatever that means it seems to works in Britain too. Muscular front wings inspired by the RX-8 coupe enhance the 6’s road presence; the shape is fluid, the tapered light clusters look smart and the paint finish is excellent.
Mazda is riding a wave of confidence with the new 6, generated by the acclaim the previous model earned in 2001. So the new car is based on the same old platform, shunning the newer Ford Mondeo/S-Max floorplan that could have been used.
There are changes; the 6 is now 90mm longer than before, benefiting cabin space, although impressively it weighs 35kg less than the old model. The result is a saloon that’s in total 240kg (or three average-size adult passengers) lighter than its supersized rival Ford.